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NHL Players Association head 'optimistic' about participation in South Korea Olympics

NHL Players Association head 'optimistic' about participation in South Korea Olympics

The 2018 Olympics in South Korea has been a bone of contention between the NHL owners, who don't want the season interrupted, and their players.

Speaking to assembled media at the Centennial Classic on New Year's Day, NHL Players Association head Donald Fehr expressed optimism that players will be able to participate. 


I'm more optimistic now that I ever have been, at least as far as we're concerned, that we'll be able to reach an appropriate agreement with the IIHF to allow for the players to go... "You get a sense of things as they go along, you get a sense of things and how they're likely to end up; doesn't mean you're always right, but you get a sense of things.

The situation is a complicated one on both sides. 

NHL owners are concerned about the expenses of interrupting the NHL season for the Olympics (including travel, lodgings and insurance), which the IOC has said it would not reimburse after doing so for previous Winter Games.

There's also the question of player health, with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman articulated in his remarks the same day. 

Absent some compelling reason, I'm not sure there's a whole lot of sentiment on the part of the clubs to go through the disruption of taking three almost weeks off during the season. We've been there, done that five times and while Vancouver and Salt Lake City were different, when you're halfway around the world [in Pyeongchang] it's not the easiest thing to have in our season. Not just the risk of injury ... the compression to the regular season is something that concerns us.

The NHL had previously offered to include a group of international games in the schedule (Olympics, World Cup of Hockey, etc) in exchange for a three-year extension of the current CBA.

The players union rejected that proposal, but Fehr suggested an agreement could be reached that would allow a "long-term international program" independent of the CBA. He also said he was hopeful that the sides could negotiate for the IIHF to cover expenses associated with NHL players participating in the Winter Games. 

At some point, the back-and-forth over these Olympics has to end. There's no real firm deadline, though ESPN reports that involved parties believe a decision must come by the end of January. 

The verdict here really matters to the Capitals. Capitain Alex Ovechkin, for one, has said he will play for team Russia regardless of whether the NHL participates. He joked that he could even be retired by 2018. Hopefully, if Fehr has his way, that won't have to happen. 

Ovechkin has the backing of Capitals owner Ted Leonsis on his decision. 

Other team cornerstones routinely represent their countries in international competition as well. Nicklas Backstrom is a perennial member of team Sweden, while starting goalie Braden Holtby represented team Canada in the recent World Cup of Hockey. 

MORE CAPITALS: 3 bold predictions: Cooling the red-hot Maple Leafs

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Game 75 Capitals at Canadiens Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

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Game 75 Capitals at Canadiens Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

What: Washington Capitals vs. Montreal Canadiens

Where: Bell Centre, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

When: 7:00 p.m. ET

How to Watch: Capitals-Canadiens will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington.

Live Stream: You can watch the Capitals-Canadiens game on NBC Sports' live stream page.


The Capitals (43-24-7) take on the Canadiens (27-36-12) Saturday, March 24 at 7:00 p.m. ET in Montreal.


The Capitals-Canadiens game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington. Coverage kicks off on NBC Sports Washington with Capitals FaceOff at 6:00 p.m. followed by Caps GameTime at 6:30 p.m. Stay with NBC Sports Washington after the game for Caps Extra and Caps Overtime at 10:00 p.m. for postgame coverage. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

6:00 p.m. — Caps FaceOff
6:30 p.m. — Caps GameTime
7:00 p.m. — Capitals at Canadiens
9:30 p.m. — Caps Extra
10:00 p.m. — Caps Overtime


You can watch the Capitals-Canadiens game on NBC Sports' live stream page.


Use the comment section below to discuss the game action with other Capitals fans. 

For all the latest Caps coverage, follow Capitals Insider Tarik El-Bashir, Capitals correspondent JJ Regan and the NBC Sports Capitals account on Twitter. Be sure check out our Capitals page and NBC Sports Washington's Facebook page.

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Touted Prospect Shane Gersich signs with Caps, joins team immediately


Touted Prospect Shane Gersich signs with Caps, joins team immediately

The Caps signed University of North Dakota forward Shane Gersich, a fifth round selection in 2014 and one of the organization’s top prospects, on Friday morning, the team announced.

Gersich, a left shot who is listed at 5-11, 175-pounds, has already joined the team in Montreal, where the Caps play the Canadiens at Bell Centre on Saturday night.

His contract, which begins this season, carries an average annual value of $925,000.

It’s unclear when Gersich will make his NHL debut, but it could happen at some point in the Caps’ final eight games before the playoffs.


NBC Sports Washington has been told that the primary objective for Gersich in the coming weeks is to get his first taste of the NHL by observing—and practicing alongside—his new teammates in Washington. If the opportunity to get him into the lineup presents itself, then it’s possible he’ll suit up.

The 21-year-old just completed his third season at UND. Here are Gersich’s numbers from junior and college, courtesy of


At UND, the smooth-skating and skilled Gersich also produced this memorable goal vs. Denver:

Gersich has been assigned jersey No. 63 in Washington, according to the Caps’ website.

The addition of Gersich and subsequent subtraction of Travis Boyd, who was reassigned to Hershey on Friday morning, leaves the Caps with 14 forwards on the roster.

“I think he did a great job at rookie camp,” Caps GM Brian MacLellan said of Gersich in July. “He was one of our best players, if not the best player, at camp. Really happy about the way he’s progressed and where we picked him. I think Ross Mahoney did a great job with that pick.”